Air pollution has become an increasingly serious problem causing health and environmental issues including pollution from factories, vehicles, garbage disposal methods, and burning of crop residues in agriculture (the primary crop stubble that is burnt is paddy, which grows in large areas). The paddy‑wheat cycle is in practice in many parts of the country, with Punjab and Haryana being the dominant states where it is practiced in large areas. Crop residue management has been a major challenge in Punjab and many solutions have been envisaged by the country’s premier research institutes over the years; among these, the super seeder agricultural machine is considered the most convenient and appropriate solution. This tractor-operated implement simultaneously achieves three actions: ploughing the field to prepare it for the next crop, simultaneously mixing the crop residue of the previously harvested crop with the soil, and sowing the next crop’s seeds. Thus it manages the problem of the crop stubble and makes it significantly useful by increasing soil fertility for better productivity of subsequent crops.
In Chunni Kalan village of Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab, under a CSR-supported partnership project being implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation, the foundation team, together with the farmers, undertook a step toward the prevention of pollution through stopping the burning of rice crop residue. Under the project, training on the benefits of a super seeder machine and the disadvantages of burning stubble were provided to the farmers of this village, which positively influenced the farmers.
An entrepreneurship model was adopted where five farmers were provided super seeder machines, at a total cost of INR 12,90,000. Out of this, INR 7,69,000 was the subsidy provided through the project, and beneficiaries contributed INR 5,21,000.
The entrepreneur farmers provided services to other farmers in their own and neighbouring villages at subsided rates. The machine was used for wheat sowing in paddy fields thereby stopping the incidences of stubble burning. In past two years, all five machines covered 621.5 acres in Chunni Kalan and surrounding villages.
Renting the super seeder machine saves the farmer INR 1,500–1,800 per acre and time of about 2 to 2.5 hours per acre. If a farmer prepares the field for sowing one acre of wheat with other machines, he has to plow the field 3–4 times, at a total cost of INR 4,000–4,300; but the super seeder machine prepares the field in one go, the cost of which comes to INR 2,500, thus saving INR 1500–1800 from one acre. The individual entrepreneurs also received benefits, saving INR 600 per acre. All five machine owners together received INR 3,72,900 from 621.5 acres.
Thus in 2021 to 2022 there was no fire in the fields of farmers in Chunni Kalan due to the use of the super seeder machine in this village.